Phil Underwood of Columbus, Georgia, is an area consultant who handles business clients for Veolia Environment Services, a waste-management firm. His basic offerings (size of dumpster, frequency of pickup) are commodities, easily matched by competitors. After attending a sales training program and getting some sales coaching based on the Action Selling ® system, Underwood called on an auto manufacturer who was doing business with one of those competitors.

He entered the call with what the sales training course called a Best Value Questions plan (more on that in a moment). His questioning revealed that the garbage compactor supplied by the competitor was located next to the outdoor seating area of a neighboring assisted-living facility. The residents, Underwood learned, “had to see the compactor, hear the compactor, and smell the compactor.”

Recognizing a Best Value Need, Underwood turned up the heat with more questions, such as, “How concerned are you about the impact on these elderly neighbors?” He came back with a proposal for a new compactor in a new location. He even offered to help find a contractor who would pour a cement pad for the relocated equipment.

Underwood’s price was 35 percent higher than the rate the client had been paying, “but the competition never had a chance,” he says. “They weren’t even playing the same game.”

How Best Value Needs change the game.

How do you manage sales calls when the products you offer are commodities, basically no different than those available from your competitors? That question bedevils most companies these days, because commodification is overtaking every industry. A “commodity” is no longer just something like wheat or corn. Now yesterday’s technological miracle is today’s ho-hum commodity.

Chances are your products don’t stand out and your company doesn’t stand out, at least not on the basis of classic features and benefits. Unless you do something to change the terms of the conversation, the only issue on the table will be price. That traps you in doomed race to the bargain basement.

Are there any sales skills that can help you escape that trap? In Action Selling ®’s sales training programs and sales coaching efforts, we teach that the way to change the game is to focus on client needs that are far from obvious. We call them Best Value Needs. They can be the levers that pry you out of the commodity trap.

Unlike commodity needs that any vendor can satisfy, and unlike differentiated needs that only your company can satisfy, Best Value Needs are customer concerns that your competitors could address with their own capabilities—but won’t. Either it won’t occur to them because they haven’t discovered these BVNs, or you can provide a solution in a tangibly better way.

The issue that Phil Underwood discovered (relocating a compactor could address a need that the client hadn’t really thought enough about) is a perfect example of a BVN.

With the right sales training and sales coaching, you can learn to seek out and uncover Best Value Needs, then target them when you present your solutions to customers. That lets you differentiate yourself by demonstrating extreme value.

For information about how to improve sales skills and make sales training pay huge dividends, contact Action Selling ® at (800) 232-3485.